by: Hanson

Old pros since childhood, Hanson long ago shed the exuberance that characterized the records of their youth, yet they've never switched their pop blueprint. They still pledge allegiance to classic rock, rooted in the '60s but seen through the prism of the '80s, with the latter decade taking precedence as the group ages. More and more, they're starting to sound like the legions of middle-aged '60s vets who turned out punchy, polished nostalgic work toward the back half of the '80s, a sentiment that certainly is true of 2013's Anthem, the trio's sixth record and an album that lives up to its title. Hanson never play it small here; they've beefed up the songs and girded the production with steel, so it's all towering, almost overwhelming. Often, the songs are likable but too slight to withstand this kind of bombast, and yet it's hard to imagine Hanson opting out of this gilded sound. They're too fond of the clean, sharp corners, the snappy bombast of synthesized horns, crisply phrased soul riffs adapted from the Jackson 5; they can play and want you to know it. Hanson are talented craftsman with an innate ear for pleasing pop hooks, and although the scale of Anthem can be a little too grand, when sampled in small doses the trio remains a reliable pop pleasure. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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